OSAKA — Police arrested a former security guard Monday on suspicion that he set fire to an automated teller machine cubicle in central Osaka in June, causing an explosion and seriously injuring himself.
Satoshi Ueno, 37, a resident of Osaka, was taken into custody for alleged arson. Police quoted him as saying he set the ATM on fire to cover up his theft of cash he was supposed to have delivered to the ATMs in the booth. Police are also pursuing a theft charge.
At the time of the blast, Ueno was working for the security firm Toyo Tec Co., which was tasked with delivering cash to ATMs.
According to police, the explosion occurred at around 6:45 p.m. June 18 in an area of Chuo Ward where Asahi Bank operates ATMs. The blast, believed to have been fueled by gasoline, took place 15 minutes before the ATMs were to be shut down for the day.
The fire burned about 18 sq. meters of property, and Ueno, who was inside the ATM booth, suffered full-body burns. Three passersby were slightly burned.
Police suspect Ueno probably did not expect an explosion when he ignited the gas.
Police determined that some 26.5 million yen that was supposed to have been delivered to the ATMs was missing. They later discovered about 24 million yen in cash inside Ueno’s car, which was parked in front of the booth.
They suspect that Ueno failed to deliver money he took from a safe at the security company on two occasions prior to the incident. A security videotape at the firm allegedly shows him acting suspiciously around the safe.
Investigators suspected Ueno early on but did not arrest him because he was receiving treatment for his injuries. Although at one point he was in serious condition, he is now using a wheelchair and undergoing rehabilitation.
Following the arrest, Toyo Tec released a statement expressing regret. According to his superiors, Ueno joined Toyo Tec about four years ago but quit in August.
They said they were mystified why Ueno committed such a crime, because he must have known that he would be suspected if the money disappeared.
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